Untangling what makes cities liveable: happiness in five cities

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

September 15, 2012


Why is living in the city more attractive in some places than in others? How can policymakers, urban planners and engineers work together to make cities better places to live for urban residents? One way to understand what makes a city liveable is to examine a key measure of quality of life: individual level happiness. Recent research suggests that happiness is not simply a function of individual factors such as health, wealth and social relations. Happiness is also influenced by where people live. City residents are happier if they feel connected to their cities and neighbourhoods and feel positively about the state of city services. Using a sample of over 5000 urban residents in five major cities, this paper builds on recent findings that indicate the happiness of city residents is affected by citizen perceptions of their city as a place to live and their evaluations of the essential services provided by government and non-profit organisations. Using structural equation modelling, the authors demonstrate that latent variables tapping these perceptions have both direct and indirect influences on self-perceptions of happiness in five major cities.

Published in

Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers: Urban Design and Planning

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 165 , p.127 -136






Not held in Research Library - bibliographic reference only



Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author


Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society


Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs


Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report


Key research themes and areas of interest